The disciples were arguing among themselves who was the greatest. Then Jesus sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” If it weren’t for the facts, this saying would be very hard to believe! And yet, our brains have a hard time – very hard time – embracing it. We shouldn’t wonder. This saying wasn’t meant for the brain but for the heart, and when the heart embraces it, the mind catches up to it!
When I think of the last being first, I think of a graduation ceremony where the Principal calls out, to my surprise (and horror), the Z’s before the A’s. I guess God, like man, can roll call us in whatever order he chooses, and he so happens to choose the last before the first. It might seem screwed up to us, but that’s only because we’ve turned His world upside down while Christ turned it right side up!
In his book, “Leadership”, Rudolph Giuliani says something to the effect, “The best leaders under-promise and over-deliver.” I like the former Mayor of New York, but I couldn’t agree with him less. It would have been more fitting for him to say, “The best politicians under-promise and over-deliver.” Real leaders are not real politicans. Leaders are humble yet tenacious. Tenacious because they deliver what they promise. Humble because they recognize the great potential of those under them. They spend time and money training them to replace them. Sound familiar? Christ was humble and tenacious. He prepared his men well.
The Lord spent time, precious time, with the Twelve, preparing them for His eventual departure. And although they loved to debate among themselves, with regards to who was the greatest, the Lord did not immediately interject and put the argument to rest by saying, “I’m the greatest and you most definitely are not!” Instead, he let them debate and reminded them of what it took to be great: You must serve all!
I know a lot of moms and dads out there that wonder if their child(ren) will ever remember or appreciate all the sacrifices and physical, spiritual and emotional pains and trauma they suffered for their beloved children! I’m not sure what the answer to that question is. I do know that God will not forget!
Christians are called to live their lives in a radically different way than human beings live their lives. It’s not that we have a monopoly on serving. We would never want that! But we do have a monopoly when it comes to living like the poorest of the poor to be with the poor, or living and dying like a leper to be with the lepers, or being a prisoner in a concentration camp and dying like a Jew to be like Jesus. In our world, they would be considered the least of all. In God’s world, they, along with their humble brothers, are considered the greatest of all.
Christ gave a face to the faceless. He gave sight to the blind, hope to the hurt, a lift to the lame, and love to the unlovable. He served, and when all appeared as a loss; He received. Take comfort moms and dads, single women and single men!
As we begin Lent, let us prepare ourselves today, on fat Tuesday, with girded loins to be more like Jesus, who was the greatest of all by serving us all.